SBJ/August 29-September 4, 2011/Media

Golf Channel 'taking the next step' with NBC pregame show at Tour Championship

Golf Channel will produce a pregame show around NBC’s coverage of the Tour Championship presented by Coca-Cola on Sept. 24-25, the first time NBC has attached a pregame show to one of its golf events.

Golf Channel’s Kelly Tilghman and Brandel Chamblee will host two half-hour editions of “Golf Central” live from East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta on that Saturday and Sunday.

“This will be a landmark show for golf,” said Golf Channel President Mike McCarley. “There has never been a network pregame show for golf before.”

The move to use one of Golf Channel’s most recognized brands in NBC’s golf coverage marks yet another step in the company’s move to integrate Comcast’s Golf Channel and NBC Sports’ golf coverage. Earlier this year, NBC’s golf coverage was rebranded as “Golf Channel on NBC” and NBC’s golf analysts started appearing on Golf Channel.

“We’re taking the next step with our integration as we move into the [FedEx] playoffs,” McCarley said. “The ability to tell these stories on NBC is an opportunity we wouldn’t have had before this year, when we combined these two companies.”

The pregame show is intended to attract and benefit casual viewers by telling stories and giving information about the event and the tour.

For example, the pregame show will explain the points system behind the FedEx Cup.

Viewers also will be able to watch tournament action live on Golf Channel during the pregame show. Golf Channel has rights to show Thursday/Friday coverage of the Tour Championship, as well as weekend rounds when NBC isn’t carrying it.

McCarley is convinced that this type of integration will help viewership at both the broadcast and cable network. Since the two started working closer together, Golf Channel has seen its viewership increase 29 percent, with shoulder programming like “Golf Central” seeing a 52 percent jump through the second quarter.

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